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Word Count: 477
The Bishop Orders His Tomb Robert Brownings The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxeds Cathedral displays the flagrant corruption and scandal plaguing the sixteenth-century Catholic Church Browning again presents a dramatic monologue this time from the voice of a fictional bishop on his deathbed This approach functions well in the poem -- adding the excitement intimacy and uncertainty that a simple narrative would lack while sustaining both the details of the subject and the theme Furthermore in writing through the voice of the bishop the poet reveals some insight into speakers character and those of the others mentioned From his deathbed the bishop begins as any man of God would quoting biblical verses that scorn vanity The bishop however then goes on to order lavish and expensive arrangements for his tomb Through his extravagant commands we learn more and more of his greed and hypocrisy He seems insatiable in attempts to out do the previous bishop Gandolf The bishop remains irritated by the position of Gandolfs tomb which he considers the best spot Thus he resigns himself to out doing his predecessor with the luxury of his tomb As the poem continues the bishops describes his tomb in every detail and even changes his mind several times Surpassing a dead man takes precedence even on his deathbed I found this poem both humorous and slightly disturbing Though one can laugh at he ridiculous demands of the bishop it bothers me that people actually did live and think this way It reminded me a lot of Chaucers Canterbury Tales in describing the corruption and worldliness of the church Throughout the poem the bishop is so concerned with his tomb he fails to realize the scope of his own death Instead of humbling himself to God or reflecting on his life the pompous bishop focuses on appearance He believes that once placed in his tomb he will hear
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